Conference: Reclaiming the Protection of Civilians under International Humanitarian Law

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How can we ensure that civilians are given the protection they are entitled to under international humanitarian law? 


Representatives from a great number of states, international organisations and civil society organisations are present here today. We all have our own roles to play and different entry points into the discussion and we may disagree on a number of specific issues. We all agree on one thing, however, that we have to increase our efforts to protect the civilians affected by armed conflicts. We must respect and uphold international humanitarian law and define what it means in practice. And we all agree that the most effective way to find out how to do this is to talk to each other, and to learn from each other.

   (Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, 23 May 2013)

The Norwegian Government, in cooperation with the Governments of Argentina, Austria, Indonesia and Uganda, hosted the Global Conference on Reclaiming the Protection of Civilians under International Humanitarian Law in Oslo, 23-24 May 2013. The Global Conference concludes a series of regional workshops in Jakarta (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Kampala (2012) and Vienna (2013).

Experts from Governments, the military, humanitarian organisations, as well as other relevant actors, came together in a global dialogue on how to strengthen the protection of civilians under international humanitarian law (IHL). The Global Conference gathered approximately 300 participants, including 94 States.

Over the years, international humanitarian law has developed into a strong body of law that sets clear obligations for the parties to armed conflict to protect the civilian population. Still, we see that the majority of victims of armed conflict are civilians. The focus of the Conference has been on discussing the main challenges faced in protecting civilian populations affected by armed conflicts, and on identifying practical measures which may effectively address these challenges. The asymmetric and protracted nature of modern armed conflicts, parties to armed conflicts disregarding IHL and the fact that hostilities often take place in urban areas, were some of the challenges identified. To address these challenges, a number of practical measures to be taken by the different actors operating in conflict areas have been identified and could serve as recommendations in order to improve the situation for civilians.

Please find the Co-Chair’s summary with the list of recommendations, and other related documents, on the right hand side.

For further information or other inquiries, please contact the conference secretariat, Ms. Jannicke Fredriksen, at e-mail: , or phone: (+47) 23 95 01 37.

From the conference
From the conference. (Photo: Gyro)
Foreign Minister Eide at the conference
The Foreign Minister. (Photo: Gyro)


Last updated: 07.06.2013